Sloppy Drafting Nullifies Arbitration Agreement
by Michael Fox
The trial court denied a motion to compel arbitration and the Court of Appeals denied a mandamus. In Re: C & H News (Tx. Ct. App. - Corpus Christi 1/16/03). The rationale was that the language of the agreement incorporated the employee handbook. Unfortunately, the handbook had language which allowed it to be modified at will by the employer.To be binding there must be consideration or mutuality of obligation, neither of which was present here because of the employer's ability to change at its will the scope of arbitration. The court refused to grant mandamus. One small jurisdictional note: the court had earlier held that the Federal Arbitration Act was not applicable and neither party objected. Under those circumstances, the appropriate remedy would have been appeal, not mandamus; although the court did not reject it on that ground.